The Jozi Cats, Africa’s first gay and inclusive competitive rugby club, will compete at the Union Cup in Madrid this weekend.
The Cats will make history as the first non-European club and the first club from Africa to be invited to compete in the biannual European gay rugby tournament. Madrid is hosting World Pride in June and July.
The Cats provide a safe and harassment-free environment for the whole LGBTQI community to play rugby without the fear of being marginalised because of their sexual orientation.
'It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come in the year since our viral “Rugby That’s So Gay” campaign challenged gay stereotypes all over the world,' said Cats spokesperson and vice-chairman Anthony Seger.
'This is why we are so delighted to be part of the quest to challenge the status quo around the perceptions of what it means to be part of the LGBTQI community and what it means to be truly safe.
'Homophobia and discrimination in sport and broader society, both here and around the world can no longer be tolerated and we believe that together with the Jozi Cats we can make an active contribution to these challenges.
'It’s amazing to know we’ll not only have players leaving for Spain to represent South Africa in inclusive rugby for the first time, but our touch rugby squad will be heading to the Knysna Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival to promote our #SpiritOfCommunity, #SafeSpaces and #BtheWhistle initiatives,” he said. 'And it seems really fitting that this is all happening on the eve of Freedom Day this year.'
The Cats will be able to attend the tournament thanks to a sponsorship from Exclusive Books.
'While we are primarily in the business of selling books, we also provide a safe harbour for our customers to enter other worlds through the books they choose and we believe sport should do the same,' said CEO Benjamin Trisk.